Thursday, 13 June 2019

Ceisteanna (10)

Thomas P. Broughan

Ceist:

10. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence his plans to improve the levels of pay and timing of pensions and gratuities in the Defence Forces; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24358/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Oral answers (10 contributions) (Ceist ar Defence)

Yesterday, we debated a Private Members' motion calling for the restoration of military allowances and the supplementary pension for post-2013 entrants and to allow members join the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, ICTU. Earlier, I recited extracts from documents presented to me by Óglaigh na hÉireann in my constituency and from other constituencies. The figures for the annual pension are very stark, with a discharge rate of €42,000 after 20 years and a gratuity of €31,500. The 55 to 60 retirement age was addressed but it seems we are dealing with the group of public servants most affected by austerity, which the Public Service Pay Commission has not addressed.

I take it the Deputy is referring to the levels of pension and gratuity benefits paid to members of the permanent Defence Force, PDF, on retirement. 

Military pension schemes operate within the broader context and framework of public service pension policy, as determined by Government. The specific occupational pension scheme terms of members of the PDF, which depend on factors such as the date a person first joins the public service, fall into the following three distinct categories, the terms of which are quite different from each other: those who joined the PDF before April 2004; those who joined on or after 1 April 2004 and before 1 January 2013; and those who joined on or after 1 January 2013 as members of the single public service pension scheme. For operational and human resources policy reasons, PDF personnel have faster accrual pension arrangements, along with lower pension and retirement ages or, where applicable, upper service limits than is the norm elsewhere in the public service. Personnel who joined before April 2004 have atypical fast accrual pension scheme terms, under which there is no minimum pension age or provision for deferred benefits. Instead, pension and gratuity are payable immediately on retirement after relatively short periods of service, and regardless of age.

We all want to know when the commission's report will go to Cabinet and when the Minister of State will give us positive news on restoration of pay and conditions for the armed forces. He has given me a detailed response on inductions and discharges from 2002. However we look at that, it makes shocking reading: year on year from 2002 to 2009 just over 4,000 people entered the Defence Forces but 4,974 were discharged. In the period since the financial crash, from 2010 to this year, 4,893 were inducted and 5,869 were discharged. We all have had experience of different organisations before coming into this House but none of us could manage an organisation where 10% of staff are coming and going. How can that be done? I have asked the Minister of State more detailed questions about the turnover rate among the officers and leadership and the different units around the country. That seems a shocking situation. We should restore the defence portfolio to a full portfolio with a full Cabinet Minister.

I assure the Deputy that I sit at the Cabinet table and defend the Defence Forces and advocate on their behalf.

The Taoiseach is the Minister.

If the Deputy had not left the Labour Party, he could have been there. In 2007, he could have highlighted all these issues.

I might be there yet.

The Deputy could reconsider that.

There was always a high turnover in or around 8%. That is the international norm.

It is for armies. There is always a high turnover in armies. That is normal. I highlighted that in some of my earlier responses. We are dealing with a high turnover at the moment but we are competing with a strong economy. History shows that when the economy is strong, the Defence Forces suffer. Unfortunately, that is the case. The Deputy referred to the Public Service Pay Commission. That is a matter for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe. I expect that report will be brought to Cabinet shortly.

Questions Nos. 11 and 12 replied to with Written Answers.
Question No. 13 answered with Question No. 8.